SCEN June 2021 Update

02 June 2021


As the academic and school year of 2020-21 draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on what all of us involved in promoting, teaching and learning Mandarin language in Scotland have been able to achieve in the unprecedented circumstances of the current crisis. In the front line of those confronting the many challenges of the past period are the teachers and lecturers who continue to teach Mandarin, and the students who continue to study and learn. This work has continued for the most part without face-to-face contact for the majority of the past session. This has meant that innovative practice in both teaching and learning have been imperative for both teachers and students alike.

At such a difficult time for all of us, the new experiences of learning and teaching form a bedrock on which we can build as we look ahead to session 2021–22. As we fervently hope for an end to the present pandemic across the world, we hope also for more normality in our engagement with each other.



Classroom Teacher CroppedOne of the most important lessons from the past year is that in taking forward the Mandarin agenda all of us must co-operate and work closely together in recognising existing good practice and finding ways ahead for the majority of young people in Scotland who do not yet have the opportunity to learn Mandarin. It is the theme which has run through our discussions for much of this year.

On 3 March we had the exceptionally well attended webinar “Taking Forward Mandarin in Scottish Schools” organised with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). On 29 April SCEN Trustees continued the discussion. On 21 May the SCEN Advisory Council, where representatives of most of the main bodies in Scotland involved in taking forward Mandarin (and other languages) are represented, discussed in some detail the need for genuine collaboration.

SCEN Trustees will meet on 10 June and discuss in greater detail what this means in practice, the role of SCEN in this, and how we can take this discussion forward into the school session ahead. We shall be in touch.



The new SCEN website will be launched in August. Already considerable work is underway in developing design and content fit for rapidly changing times. We are in contact with teachers through the Chinese Teaching Club, and with young people in schools and universities, some of which are nominated by schoolteachers of Mandarin, and some identified through our own contacts. It is all part of our aim to develop an enhanced online presence, while proceeding cautiously and professionally in our engagement with social media.

A medium-term aim is to build a network of young people working closely with SCEN and with other young people. The role of the Network will be to help raise the profile of Mandarin with pupils and students in schools. This engagement will initially be online, but the hope and aspiration is that we will soon be able to organise face to face events again.

SCEN has also agreed a new tagline: “Supporting the Study of Chinese Language and Culture Across Scotland”, which we believe better reflects our goals as we move on.



On 19 May SCEN hosted a webinar event on “Planning and Developing L3 Mandarin”. This was presented by a long-term associate of SCEN, Ann Robertson, now advising on 1 + 2 languages development in East Lothian, Midlothian, and Scottish Borders. The event was very well received by participants. We hope to work with Ann in the future as part of our engagement with schools and teachers looking to take forward the teaching of Mandarin in both primary and secondary schools – and on to higher education.




The CTC, hosted by Jean Wang, teacher of Mandarin in Hillhead High School, Glasgow met online on 28 May. The discussion was about the taking forward of teaching materials up to and including certificate level. We also discussed the CTC input into the new SCEN website. There was also an open discussion about the challenges facing teachers during the period of pandemic.
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday 12 November.



It is central to our approach that we are a Network for the whole of Scotland. Our aim is to host events centred in particular on schools and areas of Scotland where there is little, or no Mandarin currently being taught. Initially this would be online, however we would like to work with schools, teachers, and others in organising events, and emphasising the importance of young people having the opportunity to learn Mandarin. Anyone interested in discussing this further please contact or



I very much hope that all SCEN Network members have a decent break and time to rest over the summer. The academic year ahead will have challenges, but also new opportunities. Let us hope that post-pandemic we can all look to growing Mandarin learning and teaching in schools throughout Scotland.

Now more than ever it is imperative that young people in Scotland have the opportunity to learn Mandarin and about China.

For further information on SCEN activity please do not hesitate to contact our website or

Best wishes to you all,
Simon Macaulay